Webster says sore ankle is `not right yet'

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Club eager to activate catcher

Mouton traded

June 02, 1999|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

SEATTLE -- While the Orioles remain hopeful that backup catcher Lenny Webster will at least be ready to begin a rehab assignment when the club returns home this weekend, Webster indicates such optimism may be better tempered with patience.

Webster put himself through a series of running drills again yesterday and reported no significant pain. However, he admitted that the stress from catching continues to cause his sprained right ankle discomfort.

"It's not right yet," Webster said before taking batting practice. "It's still there. If you're asking me, I say wait. But I don't know what they're going to say when we get back home. They probably have the final say so we'll have to wait and see."

Webster hasn't played since suffering a second-degree strain of a tendon in his right ankle on May 12. He said team doctors and trainers have described the problem as "a six- to eight-week injury." His attempts for a quicker recovery have received mixed signals as he had to cut short an attempt in Anaheim last week before extending himself for 15 wind sprints in Oakland Sunday.

Monday night Webster helped warm pitchers in the bullpen during the Orioles' 10-6 loss. While he's experienced little residual discomfort from running, Webster was noticeably sore yesterday from crouching the night before.

"I would hold back [on this weekend] if it were up to me," Webster said.

Such a caution sign may prod the Orioles into beginning a search for another catcher. Organizational talent Tommy Davis was looked upon as a short-term solution and has started only once while receiving six at-bats since being promoted May 14.

"We'll make a decision when we get back home," said manager Ray Miller, who described the choice as between a rehab assignment or immediate activation. However, at the time Miller was unaware of Webster's level of discomfort.

Mouton traded for Dunn

In a swap of veteran minor-league outfielders, the Orioles made their first trade of the regular season yesterday when they acquired Todd Dunn from the Milwaukee Brewers for Lyle Mouton. The move is expected to have a minimal impact on either club, though Mouton may receive a quicker chance to reach the major leagues with his new organization.

Dunn, 28, was hitting .217 with five home runs and 16 RBIs for Louisville. He also had connections with at least one member of the Orioles' front office, assistant general manager Bruce Manno, who described Dunn as a tools player somewhat hindered by his being drafted at a comparatively advanced age. Manno served as Brewers farm director when the club made Dunn a '93 sandwich pick.

Director of player development Tom Trebelhorn arranged the deal, according to Manno, which allowed the disgruntled Mouton a chance for "a fresh start" with his fourth organization. Mouton, 30, appeared in 18 games with the Orioles last season, but was assigned to Triple-A Rochester after a disappointing spring training.

Kamieniecki future cloudy

The Orioles face a looming decision on pitcher Scott Kamieniecki. Having been conditionally optioned to Rochester, Kamieniecki suffered another troubled start Monday night, surrendering six earned runs and nine hits in six innings. He also struck out six and walked two.

The start was the right-hander's longest since being sent out. In his second start Kamieniecki was removed after three innings due to back stiffness.

Because of the terms of his option, Kamieniecki is able to remain at Rochester for only three weeks before being recalled. He is scheduled to make a final start before his stay expires June 8, at which point the Orioles must decide whether to activate him or place him on the disabled list.

A third possibility would be to eat the remainder of his two-year, $6.3 million contract.

Draft day frenzy

Assuming a historic role in today's first-year player draft, the Orioles will become the first team to ever exercise four first-round picks. The draft, described by Miller yesterday as "one of the most historic days in Orioles history," will put first-year scouting director Tony DeMacio in charge of a selection pivotal to reviving the club's player development system.

DeMacio, Wren and the club's scouts have met for the past week and will apparently emerge this afternoon with plenty of pitching, preferably high school talent.

"We have our [draft] board in the best shape we could have it in," DeMacio said. "The toughest part right now is determining who might be available when."

Under the previous regime of Pat Gillick and Gary Nickels, the Orioles drafted high school players with their last three first-round picks. DeMacio's ties to the Atlanta Braves and respected scouting director Paul Snyder suggest a similar approach today.

When their first pick (No. 13 overall) arrives the Orioles will likely to choose from a group including Washington high school pitchers Jason Stumm and Ty Howington; Matt Ginter of Mississippi State; Richard Stahl of Newton H.S. in suburban Atlanta; Brian West of Monroe, La. and Brett Myers from Jacksonville, Fla.

Around the horn

The Mariners scratched Jeff Fassero from tonight's scheduled start because of a bruise he sustained from a line drive Saturday. They will instead start another left-hander, John Halama. More draft trivia: The Orioles and the Mariners are the only two rosters to include two former No. 1 overall picks. For the Orioles, Harold Baines was the first overall choice by the Chicago White Sox in 1977 and the Brewers took B. J. Surhoff first out of North Carolina in 1985. The Mariners made Ken Griffey (1987) and Alex Rodriguez (1993) the first picks of their respective classes.

Pub Date: 6/02/99

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